Owasco Lake

Owasco Lake is situated in the Finger Lakes region of Cayuga County in the US State of New York. This 17.9km long lake is considered the sixth most extensive and the third westernmost of the major Finger Lakes in New York. The name of the Owasco Lake is believed to have been derived from the native Iroquois word "dwas-co," which means "bridge on the water." Owasco Lake forms a part of the traditional territory of the Cayuga Nation of New York. 

About The Owasco Lake

A view of the beautiful Owasco Lake
A view of the beautiful Owasco Lake. 

Covering an area of 27.45 sq. km, Owasco Lake has a length of 17.9km and a maximum width of 2.1km. Situated at an elevation of 217m above sea level, the Owasco Lake reaches an average depth of 29m and a maximum depth of 54m. The lake receives its maximum inflow from the 32km long Owasco Inlet, which begins its journey from an unnamed marsh located to the north of the village of Freeville and empties into the Owasco Lake. The Owasco Inlet accounts for about 55% of the surface water that drains into the lake. Before emptying into the lake, it spreads out into an expansive wetland named Owasco Flats, which provides critical breeding habitat for various fishes, birds, reptiles, and mammals. The Owasco Lake Outlet drains the Owasco Lake in the city of Auburn, which is situated at the northern end of the lake. A dam located on the lake's outlet controls the water levels of Owasco Lake. 

Owasco Lake is situated entirely within Cayuga County's boundaries and supplies more than 70% of its water requirements. The lake supplies drinking water for the city of Auburn and many other municipalities. It has also been recorded that the Owasco Lake drains an area of 540 sq. km and has a water volume of 800,000,000 cubic meters. Owasco Lake is surrounded by agricultural lands on all sides and is therefore much exposed to high levels of nitrogen-rich fertilizers, pesticides, animal wastes, and other toxic chemicals discharged into the lake from the surrounding agricultural farms and the villages of Moravia and Groton. This dumping of farm wastes into the lake has resulted in the increased growth of Eurasian watermilfoil and other lake weeds, seriously affecting the lake's oxygen levels. Moreover, the lake's large drainage basin to surface ratio also accounts for the high-nutrient loading of Owasco Lake. 

Ecology And Recreation In Owasco Lake

Owasco Lake
Emerson park in the New York finger lakes area.

Owasco Lake is home to a large number of fishes. Some of the notable fishes found in the lake include lake trout, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, northern pike, bluegill, rock bass, American pickerel, brown trout, Atlantic salmon, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, pumpkinseed sunfish, black bullhead catfish, and walleye. 

Since the Owasco Lake is comparatively smaller and shallower than the other Finger Lakes, the lake's waters warm up much more quickly and offer recreational activities like swimming, boating, and water-skiing. The lake also serves as an ideal place for ice fishing during the winter months. Located at the lake's northern end, Emerson Park features beaches, boat launches for motorized and non-motorized boats, playgrounds, a picnic area, an 18-hole disc golf course, and Merry-Go-Round Playhouse that hosts various classic shows and events throughout the year. A private club named the Owasco Yacht Club was established in 1889 at the lake's northeastern corner. The Filmore Glen State Park featuring many waterfalls, deep gorges, campsites, and hiking trails, is located in the village of Moravia at the southern end of the lake. The Owasco Watershed Association also hosts the "Ring of Lights" celebration every year.